Violent Attack on Pussy Riot Members Must Not Be Tolerated

Press Release
March 6, 2014

Violent Attack on Pussy Riot Members Must Not Be Tolerated

Contact: Natalie Butz, nbutz@aiusa.org, 202-675-8761, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The Russian authorities must promptly launch an independent and impartial investigation into an apparently unprovoked and premeditated attack in Nizhny Novgorod this morning on human rights activists, including Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, Amnesty International said.

"By all accounts, this violent attack appears to have been premeditated by an organized group. The unidentified assailants chanted slogans, held aloft a banner and filmed the entire incident," said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International's Moscow office.

"The Russian authorities must not tolerate such attacks on peaceful activists. They must launch a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into this and all such incidents, and bring those responsible to justice."

Video evidence appears to show a group of men barging in and violently interrupting the activists' breakfast in a McDonald's restaurant near the Nizhny Novgorod train station. The activists, who were joined by other members of the new prisoners' rights NGO "Zone of the Rights," say they were in the city to inspect a local prison colony.

The unidentified assailants charged into the restaurant, carrying a sign saying "Dirty whores out of our town," and allegedly attacked the activists with pepper spray, green antiseptic and other projectiles.

Following the incident, Nadya Tolokonnikova tweeted images of medical records showing she received treatment for eye injuries. Masha Alyokhina reportedly needed stitches and suffered from a concussion.

The women have been arrested several times in recent weeks when peacefully protesting outside the Bolotnaya trial in Moscow and during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.